Sensational Successes

Sensational SuccessesThis past month has been an attention grabber. It seems every time I turn around, there is another great improvement my son has made staring me in the face.  Both my boys with autism have changed remarkably since they were toddlers.  So for this post, I want to focus on all the improvements—things I never thought I’d see—to offer some encouragement and hope to those of you who are in the trenches wondering if it will always be as hard as it is right now.

Here are a few highlights of the great gains Stevie has made:

* Stevie used to refuse to walk under a ceiling fan or hanging lights.  They terrified him!  He wouldn't even walk under a hanging light or fan to get to me if I was on the other side.  He'd start to walk, then stare at the fan dangling down as if it were just floating in air ready to crash upon his fragile frame at any minute. For the longest time, I had to pick him up to carry him past the Terminator-fans (and lights).

And here he is today:

IMG_1606

*  Stevie has always been very tactile defensive. He didn’t like soft touches—or if he did, it ticked him..a lot!  Because of his defensiveness, he would NEVER pick blueberries with us. He would come, and he would play in the nice, neat rows the orchard provided but he would not pick the blueberries. Reaching in to the bushes, past all those branches that scrape across his sensitive arms…it was just too much. And for what? He wouldn’t touch a blueberry with a 10 foot pole! It’s food. It’s a food he doesn’t eat.

Yet last weekend he did this:11855733_10206384260780417_1338278855031120380_n

*Stevie had gravitational insecurity when he was a preschooler. He was afraid to move. He wanted to be carried everywhere.  He would scream on a swing. He would not climb stairs to go on a slide.  If he were in a sand box, he would not step out of it. He would wait for someone to pick him up. He took forever to walk down stairs on his own. He always wanted to be carried.

And here is him last week:

(Click the picture to watch him in action!)

IMG_1616

 

*Stevie is very sensitive to sounds, and would benefit from noise reducing headphones, but he won’t tolerate wearing them. Sometimes this leads to him becoming overstimulated and overwhelmed, often ending in meltdowns.  This week we went to an amusement park. We didn’t know how Stevie would handle it. Last time we went (which was several years ago) he had a hard time coping with all the sudden sounds, clunks and bangs and screeching children.  He was too little to ride any of the "real" roller coasters, but this year he is tall enough for most things. For his first roller coaster experience, he wanted to try  the biggest roller coaster in the park!  All the while I was thinking, "What if he decides half way through it that he wants out?" Bad scenes played out in my mind, but... he loved it! He wanted to ride it over and over. Who knew?

IMG_0524
Stevie is in the first car, back seat with the hat!

Never say never, that is my motto.  Sometimes I am tempted to think some of the other sensory issues are not going to change, like his self-imposed severe food restrictions, for example.  Although he is severely restrictive, he is making progress… from slapping food out of my hand if he didn’t like the look or smell of it, to being able to let us eat what we want, and sometimes, he even peers over the table to look at it!  One time, he want to play at the table but it hadn’t been cleared yet. He actually touched Joy’s food in order to push it away from his space.  This, for him, is huge. And when I start to worry too much about it, I just look back and remember the things above—the amazing changes and progress my sweet boy has made.

Your child may be overwhelmed by the sensory world around him too, but from my experience, they do learn how to manage. They adapt to some extent. It won’t be this hard for them always. Especially if you have an OT that specializes in Sensory Processing.  They do amazing things!

There is hope.

SensoryBlogHopNew



Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Where are your Feet?

Robbies' little feet

When Robbie was a baby, he had recurrent ear infections, and stomach emptying problems that caused significant reflux.  When he was about 11 months old, he was on a medication to aid in emptying his stomach.  Robbie had just started standing, and moving around a little by holding on to furniture.  He was getting ready to walk!  We expected it any minute, that he'd take his first steps.

The first steps didn't happen. As a matter of fact, it seemed he'd become afraid to move around.  If he wanted to go to a different place, he'd get me to carry him.  Around the age of 15 months, I noticed on his stomach emptying medication, that it can cause dizziness, but it should go away after adjusting to the medication.  So I wondered how would someone know if a very young child was dizzy?  He'd been on the medication for 4 months.  We decided to stop the medication and see if he still really needs it, and see what would happen with his walking.  That very day, Robbie stood up and walked across the room!

4 months later, Robbie had tubes in his ears to drain the fluid that was constantly there.  We expected for his balance, hearing and his processing of sound to improve greatly.  And some of it did.  He was able to tell which direction sound was coming from, and turn his head to it for the first time!!  His balance was better, but he still had problems with movement.

Robbie loved to swing when he was very little.  Big long swings were like Heaven to him and he'd often fall asleep while swinging.  However, the summer after his tubes were placed in his ears, he suddenly could not tolerate the swing.  He would ask to go in the swing, and so I'd put him in, and swing him, and he'd panic and cry "All done! All done!" and I'd stop the swing and try to get him out but he would stop me and ask to get "down" but when I'd reach to lift him out of the swing he'd push me away, then scream and ask for down...then push me away, over and over.  He could not tolerate movement, or to stay where he was-in the swing. Eventually, I would just pick him up and hold him tight as I could, to help him feel safe, and take him inside. He would scream and cry, and tantrum for a long time until he felt safe again.

Later we came to learn that this problem has a name, "Gravitational Insecurity".  It is a fear of not being grounded. It is a fear of movement.

He wanted and needed my help and comfort, but couldn't take it because it involved more of his fear: moving. Through much help from therapists and the preschool he attends, Robbie has improved exponentially. Today (now he is 5) he will swing on his own, climb rock walls, climb ladders, go down slides, etc. on his own.

We still see the "gravitational insecurity" rear it's ugly head at times, like the other day when he wanted me to carry him down the stairs.  I told him if I carry him, it will have to "piggy-back" style, and surprisingly, he climbed up on my back. As we start to go down the stairs to our basement he giggles like he his having fun, but when we are almost to the bottom, I felt him tense up and start to panic. "One more step Robbie, we are almost there!"  He made it!  He recovered quickly from his panic and  walked off to play with his trains.  What a difference!

There are a couple ways I want to go with this:

First, how often are we in a crisis, and aren't able to accept the help that will get us out?  How often are we afraid of the very thing that can save us?  I wonder sometimes if this is how some of us feel about Jesus. Sometimes the very help we need seems so intimidating or scary that we are afraid to accept it. Thank God He is bigger than our hearts!  (I John 3:20 "...For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.")

Secondly, I want to focus on being "grounded".  Robbie feels safe when he is literally grounded to the earth, or floor. One of my favorite passages in scripture is Ephesians 3: 16-19(NKJV)

16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It talks about how should be rooted and grounded in love...  In 1 John 4:18 it says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear,"   So we are encouraged to be rooted and ground in this love that drives out fear, the love of God that is greater than we can fully comprehend in this life, but we are to seek after it, and pray to comprehend it more fully.

I wonder how "gravitationally secure" we would be if had deep roots into His love.  When I have tried to pull weeds out of our yard, I have felt how strong the roots are, and how deep and entangled they are with the ground they live in.  Some were so strong that no matter how hard I pulled up on it, I could not remove it from the earth.

I hope and pray that I, and you too, would grow those kind of roots. That when trials and struggles come our way and pull on us in attempt to uproot us, we would remain safe and secure in His love, deeply entangled with the Word of God...that we would not be shaken from our foundatation.

Later in Ephesians chapter 6  verse 13, it talks more about being grounded.  It says, "13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then..."

Let us stand firm, grounded in His love, and trusting his Word.

Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."